Pacific Rim Established as Independent Winery by Randall Grahm
A Northwest Winery Obsessed With Riesling in All Its Wondrous Forms
PORTLAND, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pacific Rim, a pioneer in the American Riesling revival, is becoming an independent winery. Randall Grahm, the visionary maverick behind Bonny Doon Vineyard (which introduced its Pacific Rim Riesling in 1992), has launched Pacific Rim, a northwest winery obsessed with Riesling. “Riesling is the world’s noblest and most aristocratic white wine grape,” says Grahm, “and we want to give it the love and attention it deserves.” Rather than remaining one enterprise with many brands, Grahm decided to divide into smaller entities that do only what they do best. Wholly owned by Grahm, Pacific Rim is an autonomous winery operation led by former Bonny Doon managers all of whom share a passion, bordering on fanaticism, for Riesling. Bonny Doon winemaking operations will remain in Santa Cruz, CA as a limited-production, entirely biodynamic winery devoted to the Rhone and Italian inspired wines that made its reputation. Pacific Rim will focus single-mindedly on the many permutations of Riesling, the only American winery of its size dedicated exclusively to this grape.
“Our Sweet Riesling says a lot about what we are doing”
Pacific Rim will break ground in late April for a new winery in West Richland, in southeastern Washington. This area, with its sandy soil, temperate climate and limited rainfall is ideal terroir for Riesling. Cool nights, even in summer, insure that wines in all styles retain the refreshing acidity that gives Riesling its character. The winery site was chosen for proximity to the sustainably farmed vineyards where Pacific Rim sources its grapes. These include Desert Hill and Willard Vineyard (in the Yakima Valley AVA) and the magnificent Wallula Vineyard, perched high above the Columbia River, where Pacific Rim is planting additional acreage, farmed in accordance with biodynamic principles.
Under the leadership of General Manager and Winemaker, Nicolas Quillé (formerly Bonny Doon’s Chief Operations Officer) Pacific Rim celebrates Riesling’s versatility, making wines in a range of styles from crisp and dry to decadently sweet dessert wines. There is no oak aging, and no malolactic fermentation so, whether sweet or dry, nothing interferes with the pure expression of varietal character and soil. Pacific Rim will produce four wines: Dry Riesling, Sweet Riesling, a dessert Riesling (Vin de Glaciere) and a small amount of dry Chenin Blanc. “Our Sweet Riesling says a lot about what we are doing,” says Quillé. “There is residual sugar, but there is also enough acidity to balance it and make this an excellent wine to pair with spicy food. It’s not a dessert wine and only Riesling can strike that balance.”
Once the most popular white wine grape in America, Riesling lost ground as wine lovers and writers discovered Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and other more fashionable grapes. But America is rediscovering Riesling in all its forms and Washington vineyards are the center of the Riesling revival. New planting of Riesling in Washington has far exceeded plantings of all other wine grapes in the state, growing by an annual average of 597 acres since 2000, as compared to Chardonnay’s annual average of 108 acres (according to the Washington Vineyard Acreage Report from the Washington Wine Grape Growers Association). Riesling’s total dollar sales grew by 26 percent in 2006, second only to Pinot Noir at 31 percent (figures from Nielsen Media Research). Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling is already the top selling American Riesling in the $9.00-$11.00 category (IRI data for 52 weeks ending January 13, 2007), and the Pacific Rim team sees a bright (and sweet and dry) future for Riesling and its fans.